By DAVE MORRISON
ESPN Radio 102.3 The Ticket
Looking for an up-and-comer in the area, a guy who can go from zero (as in points scored on the varsity level last year) to hero?
Maybe hero is a little strong but definitely a contributor.
I’ve got a three, Woodrow Wilson’s Peyton Thomas, Nicholas County’s Luke LeRose, and James Monroe’s McKinley Christian.
I’m hearing a lot of positive talk about Thomas. The junior has flashed his shooting ability in several practices this season after appearing in two games last season.
Understand that the Woodrow Wilson lineup is a hard nut to crack, even with the unfortunate season-ending knee injury to point guard Ty Walton.
With starters like Isaiah Francis, who will take over at the point in place of Walton, Cortney Walton and Tarek Payne back along with Breland Walton, Mikey Penn and Eddie Christian that’s a front six that is pretty sturdy.
But depth will be counted on, and Thomas can provide that.
Thomas, also a football player, as were Breland and Brenton Walton, has wowed the coaching staff with his shooting in preseason practices and has gotten a run with the starting five at times and will make the guard rotation a strong one this season.
You could also add Micah Hancock to that list. He too appeared in just two games in a late season call up. But the coaching staff loves his intensity in practice.
Woodrow Wilson will scrimmage Huntington tonight, then they’ll have another scrimmage against the Huntington Prep Blue Squad December 12. The Flying Eagles open the season December 20 at Ripley.
Luke LeRose obviously didn’t score a varsity point. He is a freshman.
But you can’t discount what he has done in two scrimmages. He has scored 54 points (29 against Gilmer, 25 against Wyoming East and had a dunk in the Gilmer scrimmage. That’s a bit over 39 percent of the points scored in the tow scrimmages.
“He’s a natural two with a smooth shooting stroke,” coach Brian Phipps said. “He can also get to the rim.”
As evidenced by the dunk he can also get above it.
His name has been out there on the AAU circuit, take that for what it is. When he learns the speed of the high school game (remember AAU is age bracketed) and how to get open, he is going to be a special talent. As he has shown, he knows how to score.
In James Monroe’s first scrimmage against Meadow Bridge, Christian finished with 27 points, 13 of those in the first quarter. James Monroe won the scrimmage 69-32.
The 6-foot-5 sophomore (nearly 6-6, first-year head coach Matt Sauvage said) was strictly a JV player last year.
Sauvage was extremely pleased with his play against a smaller Meadow Bridge group.
“He needs to get more weight to get stronger but he has a good skill set,” Sauvage said. “He plays really well 10 to 12 feet from the basket. That won’t be his stat line every game but he should have a good year.”
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It will be a special night tonight in Fairmont. Yes, the Polar Bears are playing in the Class AA state championship.
But there is also the Frank Hines Memorial Classic, which features some of the top girls talent in the state this season. It’s also a Class AAA vs. Class AA Challenge, with the top three teams in the big school classification taking on the top three AA teams. That worked out well.
One of those is defending Class AA state champion Wyoming East who will face No. 2 Huntington tonight at about 7 p.m. and No. 1 Morgantown at 1:30 p.m. tomorrow. Others involved are Class AAA No. 3 South Charleston (who Wyoming East will play Dec. 16) along with host Fairmont (the team Wyoming East beat in the Class AA state title game last season and Lincoln.
That lineup packs a wallop as far as talented teams and individual players goes.